By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Senate was, yesterday, told by Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, that it has for 11 years assessed petroleum subsidy payment to the tune of N8.9 trillion.
Disclosing this in Abuja at a public hearing organised by Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara) led Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream on Subsidy Payment byNigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on subsidy payments from 2006 to 2016, Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Abubakar Saidu Umar, said of the amount, N5.1 trillion was paid to the NNPC while oil marketers got the rest.
The NNPC also told the Senate that the Federal Government was indebted to the corporation to the tune of N170.6 billion outstanding subsidy payments due from January 2006 to December 2015.
Speaking, yesterday, when he led a team of top management of the NNPC to the public hearing, Group Managing Director of the corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the figure was arrived at after deduction of N4.950.80 trillion received as payments from the N5.121.40 trillion approved subsidy claims of the corporation for the eleven years.
According to Baru, while NNPC incurred a total sum of N5.12 trillion under the subsidy regime, it has received N4.95 trillion, leaving an outstanding sum of N170. 6 billion.
NNPC Finance Director, Isiaka Abdulrasaq, who corroborated the claim of NNPC GMD and provided the details of the accruals, traced the advent of the subsidy regime to October, 2003, when NNPC was directed by government to commence the purchase of domestic crude oil at international market price without a corresponding liberalization of the regulated price of petroleum products.
Meanwhile, the committee gave PPPRA and the Department of Petroleum Resources one week to furnish it with the list of all marketers, a breakdown of the quantities, the vessels, the countries the ships came from, who brought what and when, among others.
They were also asked to provide information on volumes and how much was supplied on yearly basis against the backdrop that Nigerians want to know whether there was the need for subsidy or not.
The committee also asked that NNPC come forward with more documentary evidence to substantiate its claims, especially details of the volume of fuel imported into the country during the period of the subsidy regime, just as it demanded explanation over allegation that NNPC fraudulently collected subsidy for locally refined product.
The committee has, however, expressed its displeasure over the refusal of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Minister of Finance and the Chief of Naval Staff to honour the invitation.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Petroleum, Kachikwu Ibe, who was represented by Permanent Secretary, Folashade Yemi-Esan, completely washed off the hands of his ministry from the subsidy regime, pointing out that the ministry had delegated its management to agencies within its supervision.
CBN, Finance Minister, Chief of Naval Staff shun hearing
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele and the Comptroller of Customs, Hameed Ali, failed to appear before the Senate Committee.
They, however, sent proxies from their respective offices who the lawmakers summarily dismissed.
Subsidy, cash cow of a few milking Nigeria — Saraki
In his remarks, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, while declaring open the two-day public hearing, said the probe had become very imperative to find a lasting solution to the years of fuel crisis and sleaze plaguing the country.
He also said that the National Assembly under his watch, would not sit back and allow the sleaze in form of illegal payment of subsidy to persist.
Represented by the Senate leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, Saraki noted that subsidy had become a cash cow where a few milk Nigeria of trillions of Naira.